Opposition parties criticised the Union Budget and said that it was being presented by the Modi government with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. According to them, the government has made an attempt to please every section of the community by announcing sops for them. It had failed to fix the issue of mounting fiscal deficit and had mentioned about doubling farmers income by 2022; but, already four years have passed ever since the government has come to power but nothing is happening on ground. Congress attacked the government by saying that how it will address the agricultural distress when it has failed to curb rising farmer suicides. Taking a jibe at the government, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that despite the passage of four years, no progress is visible and the government is only making announcements.
NCP questioned the government’s decision to divest its stake and merge insurance companies and said that they are running away from the basic responsibility of offering health services to citizens. Already the common man is unable to bear the rising cost of health care services due to inflation.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik termed the budget as ‘disappointing’ and claimed that it will pave way for inflation. He said, “The government is only extracting money from the common man’s pocket. The major health scheme announced by the government is a copy paste idea of Congress government’s Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana which has been renamed as Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana. People also expected reform in tax system but govt failed to do that.”
Congress MLA Arif Naseem Khan said that the budget is a huge disappointment as no relief from rising inflation has been offered to the middle class. “People expected a reduction in fuel prices but what govt has offered, won’t provide any relief to the commoners. There is no clarity about the announcement made pertaining to hiking Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers and the deadline of many schemes is 2022 which sounds unrealistic.”
He also said that digitisation has not helped citizens adding, “They only make announcement about improving Railway services in budget but fail to implement it. It was good to hear Jaitley’s Budget 2018 speech, but I don’t think that people will get any benefit out of it. All these announcements are mere election jumlas.”
Shiv Sena too expressed it displeasure over the government’s failure to raise income tax slabs as it will only pinch pockets of salaried class. The government’s decision to increase education cess to 4 per cent too has not gone down well with the party.
Terming the budget as election budget, Shiv Sena spokesperson, Manisha Kayande said that people are not interested in the figures or number jargons and they are keen to know what burden will be imposed on them after budget. “The government has increased education cess and the merger of public sector insurance companies have been announced. Even interest rates on bank deposits have been slashed which will directly affect the salaried class as they invest in those schemes.” She wanted the government to waive GST on sanitary napkins which will help women. “The government had initially offered incentives to promote digital transactions but has withdrawn them hence people have reverted back to cash transactions,” she added.
On the other hand, BJP MP Gopal Shetty said that Budget 2018 is for middle class and poor people. According to him lot of facilities are being announced for promoting agriculture and health care in the budget. He added, “Senior citizens will also derive benefit from the budget. Tax imposed on small and medium industries (SME’s) has been withdrawn. Government has also allocated lump sum money for infrastructure development.”
When asked about the allegations made by opposition that it is an ‘election budget’ he replied, “If it is an election budget then it is good. In every budget opposition calls the budget as eyewash and it has become an age old political statement. Whichever party remains in power or in opposition, the term eyewash remains constant.”